Coeliac artery

Coeliac artery (also known as the coeliac axis or trunk) is a major visceral artery in the abdominal cavity. 


Arises anteriorly from abdominal aorta at the T12 level, behind the median arcuate ligament, just as the aorta enters the abdomen. 


It is typically a short vessel that passes underneath the median arcuate ligament, often indented on its superior surface by this ligament, and then courses anteriorly or slightly anterolaterally in the lesser sac. It is surrounded by coeliac lymph nodes and the coeliac plexus. At the upper border of the pancreas, it divides into three branches: left gastric artery, splenic artery and common hepatic artery.  The left gastric artery is usually the first branch, after which the coeliac artery bifurcates into the splenic artery (coursing to the left) and the common hepatic artery (coursing to the right).

Branching patterns
  • common trunk with bifurcation into the heptaosplenic trunk and left gastric artery: 50-76%
  • common trunk with trifurcation into the common hepatic artery, splenic artery and left gastric artery: 10-19%
  • quadrifurcating or pentafurcating trunk with the gastroduodenal artery, right and left hepatic arteries and dorsal pancreatic artery potentially originating from the trunk: 10%4

The coeliac artery is the artery to the foregut, supplying:

Classic branching of the coeliac artery into the left gastric artery, splenic artery and the common hepatic artery is seen in approximately 70%. Variations are present in approximately 30%. In general, any of the three coeliac branches may arise independently from the aorta or SMA, or the coeliac artery may give rise to other branches.

Extra-coeliac origin of its three branches
From aorta
  • left gastric artery: 2-3%
  • splenic artery: <1%
  • common hepatic artery: 2%
From SMA
  • left gastric artery: extremely rare
  • splenic artery: <1%
  • common hepatic artery: 2%
Other branches that may arise directly from coeliac artery
Variant origin 
  • common origin of the coeliac artery and SMA (coeliacomesenteric trunk): <1%

There is also a plethora of variations in the branching of the second and third order branches of the coeliac artery, particularly hepatic arterial anatomy which is discussed with the common hepatic artery.

Abdominal and pelvic anatomy
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Article information

rID: 5166
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Coeliac trunk
  • Celiac artery
  • Celiac trunk
  • Coeliac axis
  • Celiac axis

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1: coeliac artery
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    Figure 2: CT angiogram
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    Case 1: coaeliaco-mesenteric trunk
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    Case 2: variant anatomy
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    Case 3: variant anatomy
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    Case 4: common CA/SMA origin
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    Incidental note: ...
    Case 5: direct aortic origin of branches
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